(September 29, 2020 / JNS) Europeans have a long and sordid history in the Middle East, from the Crusades to their colonization during the 20th century. Even to this day, European nations’ actions in the region are guided by arrogance, economic self-interest and obsession with preserving their waning influence.
Europeans, during the last century, have been increasingly relegated from global superpowers to bystanders in international diplomacy, while still clinging to economic vestiges in their former colonies, many of which are in the Middle East.
To maintain some sway, European powers have historically supported competing parties and interests in a region with many centuries-old conflicts. This, mixed with a long history of hatred and antagonism toward Jews, and especially Jewish sovereignty, has engendered double standards in Europe’s dealings with the State of Israel.
What’s more, while claiming the mantle of peacemakers, the Europeans continue directly to fund regional initiatives that actually retard efforts toward peace.
Despite this interference, the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors are themselves demolishing previous barriers to friendship, without help from European powers.
Even as relations between Israel and the Arabs warm, many European nations are still trapped in the failed Oslo paradigm—demanding suicidal Israeli concessions.
Ironically, European demands and treatment of Israel stand in direct opposition to their policies elsewhere around the world. While continuing to insist on Israeli compromises, Europeans have rarely pressured the Palestinian leadership to give up its ultimate goal of eliminating the one and only Jewish state.
This European double standard continues to embolden Palestinian recalcitrance and violence.
A great part of Europe’s role in the so-called “peace process” is to provide funding and aid to the Palestinians, partly through the corrupt and authoritarian Palestinian Authority, but also through Palestinian civil organizations, many of whose aims are anything but peaceful
The European Union claims it only funds organizations and initiatives that promote its values. Reality, however, contradicts those assertions.
The E.U.’s Peacebuilding Initiative, a conduit for passing funds to Palestinian organizations and initiatives, continues to fund official Palestinian media channels, such as the Ma’an TV network, which are openly anti-Semitic and glorify terrorism and murder of Israelis.
E.U.-funded organizations also act in opposition to official E.U. policy: According to NGO Monitor, numerous E.U.-funded NGOs have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, and dozens of other E.U.-funded NGOs promote boycott campaigns against Israel.
While the E.U. falsely refers to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria as illegal under international law and stipulates that any agreement between Israel and the European Union not include Israeli business or interests over the Green Line, this flatly contradicts its policies elsewhere.
One example of this contradiction: E.U.-Moroccan fisheries treaties extend into the territory of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, which are considered illegal by the international community.
Furthermore, the European Union has consistently proposed trade deals with Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, which have only been rejected because of the Republic of Cyprus’ objection. However, the European Union continues to fund infrastructure projects for Turkish settlers in the illegally occupied territory in the north of the island.
Likewise, the European Union has also long ignored corruption and funding for terrorism in the amounts of aid it provides the Palestinian Authority. The European Union has not made its funding contingent on the Palestinian Authority ending its “pay for slay” payments to terrorists and their families.
The European Union also prefers ignore breaches in Palestinian commitments not to use European funds to promote incitement, terrorism and corruption. In fact, one former E.U. external affairs commissioner said he needed a full European parliamentary inquiry into Palestinian misbehavior “like a hole in the head.”
The European Union and the European Parliament also periodically express shock at their own funding of Palestinian schoolbooks that have for decades promoted racism and incitement against Israel—but the European Union rarely conditions its aid on an end to the education to hate and violence.
Serbia and Kosovo recently signed a momentous agreement to normalize relations with Israel, with a shared commitment by both nations to open their embassies in Jerusalem. The European Union immediately voiced “serious concern and regret” over these pledges, and implicitly threatened that such a move could imperil both Serbia’s and Kosovo’s ascension to E.U. membership.
Thus, the Europeans threaten to torpedo an expansion of their own union, with all of its positive economic and social implications, merely because it would necessitate a potential member state recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Europe rarely, if ever, inserts itself into disagreements over whose capital should be recognized.
Why does the European Union persist in undermining peace in the Middle East?
The first reason is demographic. As Europe’s Muslim and Arab populations continue to grow, reaching a quarter and even a third of the total populace in some areas, politicians must ingratiate themselves to these populations by taking anti-Israel positions. It is simply a matter of math—these populations can swing constituencies.
Another factor is pure diplomatic and economic interests. In international forums, the Muslim and Arab blocs are dozens of nations strong, and to appease them at the cost of one Jewish state is a simple trade-off. Furthermore, around 60 percent of the world’s natural resources can be found in Muslim countries.
Finally, one cannot discount anti-Semitism.
European nations and Europeans have a long and tragic history of anti-Semitism. Expulsions, inquisitions, pogroms, targeted restrictions—all culminating in the Holocaust—amply demonstrate the place that the Jew has held in European society. The Jewish state is demonized, delegitimized and has double standards applied against it by the Europeans in ways similar to those used for centuries against Jews of ancient, medieval and modern Europe.
These are just some of the multitude of factors that motivate unfair and destructive European policy toward Israel in general and the Israel-Palestinian conflict specifically.
These actions have not only perpetrated almost three decades of failed peace-making, but also emboldened Palestinian maximalist demands and violent rejectionism.
As we have learned from the most recent peace agreements in the region, Israel and its neighbors succeed best when they sideline the Europeans. The E.U.’s double standards toward Israel are among the greatest obstacles to a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
James Sinkinson is President of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.
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